Sukhmani Sahib at a Glance

Author exponds his views on Sukhmani Sahib Ji.

In Sri Guru Granth Sahib, Sukhmani Sahib is titled Gauri Sukhmani. Gauri is the musical measure in which it is sung. The word Sahib is used as a sign of an honorific. It is a lengthy composition and master piece of Guru Arjan Dev ( 1563 -1606 ), the fifth Master, who composed it in 1602- 1603 at the bank of the Ramsar pool in the city of Amritsar. It is recorded in SGGS from page 262 to 296.

Scholars like Bhai Kahan Singh Nabha and Bhai Vir Singh have translated the word Sukhmani as 'Consoler' of the mind. It is also called 'The Psalm of Peace' or 'Hymn of Peace'. Swami Rama, a saint scholar, who published its English translation calls it 'Fountain of Eternal Joy'. Late Prof. Sahib Singh translated it asjewel of comforts, but Dr. Joginder Singh , author of ' SukhmaniSahib da Darshnik Aadhar' (Philosophical Base of Sukhmani Sahib) does not agree with him and says that the word 'Mani' points to mind and translates it as provider of peace of mind. Piara Singh Padam' in his book' Sukhmani Darshan' (Philosophy of Sukhmani) explains the meaning of the word ' Sukhmani; on page 12 and agrees with Pro. Sahib Singh. German scholar Dr. Trump relates its name to Sukmnan, the word used by yogis, but many scholars do not agree with him.

Its Central Idea

After the first stanza of the first canto (Ashatpadi) there are two additional lines and at the end of these two lines, word Rahaao is added. It means we must stop for a while and ponder over the idea contained in these lines. These two lines, given below, are the central idea of Sukhmani:

suKmnI suK AMimRq pRB nwmu ]
Bgq jnw kY min ibsRwm ] rhwau](SGGS:262)
'God's Name is a jewel of bliss and nectar of Name.
It resides in the hearts of true devotees.'

'Its Structure It is an essay in poetry and contains twenty four slokas and each sloka or couplet is followed by an ashatpadi (canto) containing eight stanzas. Every stanza contains ten sentences.They are composed in the meter of chaupai. Stanzas of the ashtpadi explain the theme stated in the preceding couplet and the eighth stanza sometimes sums up the canto. This pattern is maintained throughout the whole composition.

Its Contents

The Sukhmani presents teachings of the Sikh faith though there is no progression of thought as in a philosophical work. Each canto unfolds a fresh and particular aspect of the Sikh philosophy. It starts with an invocation to the Supreme Being in the form of four- line sloka. The following six cantos (1-6) dwell on the remembrance of God, i.e. obeying Its commands and following Its virtues. They also mention advantages of meditation in a spirit of love and importance of bliss :

ismrau ismir ismir suKu pwvau ]
kil klys qn mwih imtwvau ]]
'Meditate, meditate, meditate in remembrance of God, and find peace.
Worry and anguish shall be dispelled from your body.'

Cantos seventh to ninth describe the concept of a perfect and ideal man of God. The next two cantos (10,11) tell us that every creature is singing the praises of God Who is Omnipresent and Almighty, and cares for everybody:

ausqiq krih Anyk jn AMqu n pwrwvwr ]
nwnk rcnw pRiB rcI bhu ibiD Aink pRkwr ]
'Many people praise the Lord. It has no end or limitation.
O Nanak, God created the creation, with its many ways and various species.'

The next four cantos (12-15) advise that he who sings the praises of God should be humble (canto 12), must not slander anyone, especially saints (canto 13) and he should seek the shelter of only the Lord who can do everything (canto 14-15).

The next three cantos (16-18) tell us that God is within everyone, but still it is detached. It is Everlasting and can be met by taking the shelter of the true Guru:

The next two cantos (19-20) describe the importance of the Holy Name which always helps the human being and which can be achieved by requesting sincerely: The next three cantos (21-23) expose the absolute infinite powers of the Creator of the world Whose greatness cannot be fathomed. The monist aspect of God's power is emphasized. The last canto sums up the earlier cantos. Seekers of God are exhorted to dwell on the DIVINE Name in the company of the saints in all humility. 

Sukhmani is practical in its outlook upon the problems of life. It tells us what is the real and permanent comfort. In the words of famous scholar Sadhu T. L. Vasvani: it tells us the solution to the difficult problems of life. It is the theological statement of the major principles of Sikhism expressed in a poetic form. Its every line contains the Sikh philosophy. It mentions some as importance of meditation and holy company, need to obey the commands of God and following Its virtues.:

nwm qul kCu Avru n hoie] ] (SGGS:265)
'There is nothing equal to the Naam.'

It teaches us to obey the Lord's Order willingly:

pRB kI AwigAw mwnY mwQY ] (SGGS:268)
'Willingly abides by the Will of God.'

It can remove our sorrow, sickness, fear and doubt if we have faith, recite it sincerely and acts upon its teachings:

dUK rog ibnsy BY Brm ] (SGGS:296)
'Sorrow, sickness, fear and doubt depart.'

It describes absolute power of the Lord Who abides within all and yet remains unattached:

inrgunu Awip srgunu BI EhI ] (SGGS:287) 

'It (God) Itself is absolute and unrelated; It Itself is also involved and related.'

The Sukhmani states that there was utter emptiness before the creation of the world which It created at Its Will:

Awpn Kylu Awip vrqIjw ]
nwnk krnYhwru n dUjw ]
'It Itself has staged Its own drama.
O Nanak, there is no other Creator.'

It also defines salvation in a scientific way:

ijau jl mih jlu Awie Ktwnw ]
iqau joqI sMig joiq smwnw ]
(SGGS:2 78)
'As water comes to blend with water, his light blends into the Light.'

Through Sukhmani the Guru advises us not to allow our bad instincts to overpower us:

krqUiq psU kI mwns jwiq ] (SGGS:267)
'Though man belongs to the human species, yet he acts like animals.'

'ibnw sMqoK nhI koaUrwjY ](5.12)
'Without contentment, no one is satisfied.'

Sukhmani shows God as kind, shelter of the shelterless and helper of the helpless:

dIn drd duK BMjnw Git Git nwQ AnwQ ] (SGGS:263)
'O Destroyer of the pain and suffering of the poor,
O Master of each and every heart, O Master of the master less One.'

Canto sixth counts the gifts of God and advises us to keep It always in mind:

iqsu Twkur kau rKu mn mwih ]
'Enshrine that Lord within your mind.'

Qualities of perfect men as God -enlightened (Brahm -giani), holy persons (Sadh), saints and Pandit have been described so that we may become perfect. Such a saint is liberated from the cycle of birth and death while alive (Jiwanmukat) and is detached from grief and joy:

qYsw suvrnu qYsI ausu mwtI ] (SGGS:275)
'As is gold, so is dust to him.'

swD kY sMig klUKq hrY]
'In the company of the saints, blemishes are removed.'

It is recited by devotees in a soothing and melodious voice in most of the Gurdwaras early in the morning. Some devotees include it in their daily prayer. Some have formed societies and assemble as per schedule at different houses or Gurdwaras and recite it turn by turn. Sukhmani has a very soothing effect when recited in congregation. Its soothing effect cannot be denied. Once a year it is recited by many devotees to pray for the world peace.

Its Language and Style

While its language has evolved out of Braj Bhasha, it is closer to Punjabi in many respects. It is one of the easiest compositions in SGGS. It is simple in syntax and structure. Most of it can be understood by a Punjabi without the assistance of a learned priest or a help book. Its many lines are used in daily talk to advise persons who have gone astray. A haughty person is told:

Awps kau jo Blw khwvY ]
iqsih BlweI inkit n AwvY ]
'Goodness shall not draw near him who calls himself good.''

Similarly, a selfish person is warned in these words :

syvw krq hoie inhkwmI ]
iqs kau hoq prwpiq suAwmI ]
'One who performs selfless service, without thought of reward,
shall attain his Lord and Master.'

If we keep in view the vocabulary and grammatical rules, it is similar to the Punjabi we speak today. A few examples are being given below. Number of the canto and the stanza is also being given with each word: Thiviai (3.2) for 'became' and ditha ( 7.7). for 'is seen' In some stanzas pure Hindi words can be seen as hovat (21.1) for 'had' and jaapat in the same stanza for 'seen'. Different kinds of metaphors have been used to make it easy to understand and simple.


The hymn of Sukhmani when recited by the devotees early in the morning inspires the reciters as well as the listeners and elevates their hearts. It is spiritual music which soothes the mind and provides solace to all of us who are stressed in our daily life. It is the practice of remembering the Divine Name that brings peace, tranquility and contentment to the seeker and aspirant. It beautifully expresses the teachings of Sikhism. It is the fountainhead of Divine bliss and one who heartily recites it will surely find it. No doubt, it is the best compositions of Guru Arjan Dev and it teaches us to achieve high spiritual state through meditation. Its message is universal and we should understand it thoroughly. It would be seen that Sukhmani - the gem of peace, the Psalm of peace or whatever one calls it says peace is attained through practice of Naam. It is like a river of peace in which we can dip our souls. May this Palms of Peace kindle our hearts!

Photo Credit:: Gurudwara Shri Sukhmani Sahib Ji, Dugri, Ludhiana


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